Sunday, 16 February 2014

woe 1 Cor 9:16


 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 

The gospel preacher must always seek to hide himself and preach Christ. If he talks about himself, (perhaps relating some incident from his life or experience etc.,) it is only with the view of bringing more glory to Christ and elevating Him and nothing else. Once he has achieved that end, he will quickly slip back into the back seat so that he may attain the commendable spirit of John of the Baptist: Christ must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30)
A preacher who continually preaches all about himself – all about who he is – what he thinks – what he has done  - and what he is about to do – is not being faithful to his calling. He has certain missed the obvious teaching of Paul elsewhere: We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5)

Paul does not deny these things when he writes in this chapter. He is not seeking to usurp anything or anyone, but he is compelled (in the face of a most entrenched opposition from within the Corinthian congregation) to defend himself and his call and practices. If he did not so defend himself, then the issue was not so much that his name would perish, but ultimately the name of Christ would perish (at least, as far as Corinthian was concerned). Paul was the God sent Apostle to Corinth – the congregation was in danger of rejecting not merely him as a person, but the message he brought, and all because of false teachers who had infiltrated the church and sought to undermine the gospel.

In the immediate surrounding/text, Paul has been setting forth why he decided to forgo some of his rights as a gospel preacher to the Corinthians (i.e. practical  support). He might have claimed these rights (v7-14) but decided not to (v15). This gave more credence to his claim to be an ardent gospel preacher, robbing his enemies of any challenge (no matter unfair) upon his motives.

Paul did not preach the gospel to make a living, but because necessity was laid upon him (text) – He felt compelled to preach  - and then declares:  Yea! Woe unto me if I preach not the gospel
From this self proclaimed woe, we want to preach the same gospel that Paul preached.
4 main thoughts: 


A/ Assuming the preacher/saved, then the woe is not one of damnation.
Such however should not minimise the meaning of these words.
The last thing any Christian wants to lament over is a woe.
Woe means woe and here is a woe we want to avoid.
That it could be worse is a cold comfort indeed.

B/ Neither is it the woe of the false preacher bringing the false gospel.
Such as is found in Galatians 1:8-9 which is actually stronger than a woe being a God inspired curse.
Paul is not envisioning himself as a false gospeller.

C/ This is the woe, not of the damned, or the accursed, but of the disobedient – the gospel preacher who signally fails in his task to be a faithful witness for Christ as once called to be

D/ Albert Barnes gives one interesting insight into this verse: 

We see the reason why people are sometimes “miserable” in other callings. They, should have entered the ministry. God called them to it; and they became hopefully pious. But they chose the law, or the practice of medicine, or chose to be farmers, merchants, teachers, professors, or statesmen. And God withers their piety, blights their happiness, follows them with the reproaches of conscience, makes them sad, melancholy, wretched. They do no good; and they have no comfort in life. Every man should do the will of God, and then every man would be happy.

However, it also applies to the preacher in the pulpit who simply does not preach the gospel but introduces lesser subjects e.g. various philosophies, politics etc., as the mainstay of his sermons.

E/ Much can be said about this matter, but surely here is sufficient proof that the role of the gospel preacher is of great importance.
If an unfaithful preacher may contract such a woe,  then his position is not one of little importance, even if so viewed by men.
Man seems to set small store by what God elevates to the highest place.
A town without a faithful gospel preacher is a town bereft of that which is the power of God unto salvation.
Which brings me to my second point:


A/ This is why the woe upon the unfaithful preacher is so strong.
He is likened to the watchman on the tower (Ezekiel 33) who fails to arouse the people entrusted to his care to the immediate danger.
Assuming that the preacher is a saved man, then he should be aware of the fact that it is through the gospel that souls are saved.

[i] This is the plain declaration/Bible: Romans 1:16/1 Corinthians 1:21
[ii] His own personal experience - Someone brought him the gospel.
[iii]  This is his experience gleaned from watching/listening to others.

 If for whatever reason, he becomes unfaithful to his call, and lets the gospel fall into disuse either because he turns his hand to something else or just simply ceases to preach it faithfully, then he knows the grave consequence of his indecision and virtual silence: Men are doomed.
And God requires their blood at the hand of the silent preacher.
He is likened unto a dumb dog that will not bark (Isaiah 56:10).

B/ This gospel therefore that is so precious and vital is the only means whereby sinners are saved
It tells us 3 vital things which we need to know.
We may discover that we are sinners without it, although we might not be able to relate this disastrous position in a Biblical fashion.
But we know enough to damn our souls as Romans 2:15 makes clear.
But there are 3 vital matters which only the gospel can relate to us:

[i] Who Christ is: God’s Son who became man
[ii] What Christ did: Lived and died and lives again for sinners
[iii] The way of salvation: Ephesians 2:8-9

C/ Not to hear this gospel therefore is to miss salvation.
It does not lead to mere inconvenience, but to everlasting woe.
The gospel is to be obeyed and that necessitates hearing it.
What a challenge to us as Christians!
It is not the job merely of the Pastor/full time missionary to be engaged in relating the truths of the gospel.
It is the responsibility of every last Christian as they are able to be engaged in this work – We are all  to be witnesses for Christ.
All around us lie people who are largely ignorant of the gospel.
Others are diabolically busy preaching false gospels to them.
The carnal heart will readily embrace such false gospel.s
If they do not hear the one true saving gospel, then they will be lost and that for all eternity.
They will be born/bred and dead in their sins and all the while, we had the true message, but did not see our way to fulfilling our part in the Great Commission to bring the gospel to them.


A/ The woe of the faithless Christian is not to be underestimated.
The woe of the unevangelised sinner is terrible to contemplate.
Let’s do all that we can to relieve both woes at one/same time.

B/ The woe of the man who hears the gospel and rejects it cannot be put into words because it is the ultimate woe of al.l
Here is a man/woman who has sat under the ministry (or at least come under the influence of and contact with) those who received a calling to evangelise and who were faithful to their responsibility.
They heard a sermon(s) – they engaged in conversation – they read the literature – heard the music - they saw the faithful life lived out.
They are no strangers to these doctrines that constitute the gospel.
Some of them can articulate them with greater precision than the gospel preacher himself – but none ignorant as to leave the group.

C/ But they have done something so desperate as to bring the greater and greatest wrath/God upon their heads for all eternity: Unto whom much is given…much shall be required (Luke 12:48)
What have they done? They have disobeyed the gospel command to repent and believe its message and effectively rejected it.

Peter asks the question:
What shall the end be of them who obey not the gospel? (1 Peter 4:17)

It is answered by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:8
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
This is the unending wrath of a rejected God whose day of gospel mercy and grace has run done and whose day of anger has come.
Often, we impress upon the sinner the need to ask Pilate's question:
What shall I do with Jesus? (Matthew 22:42)
But there is another question that flows from it and is frankly more important: 
What will Jesus do with me?
The Lord Jesus gave us the horrific details of a man who in Hell could use evangelical terminology (repent) and was in the worst scenario imaginable - the unending woe of a Christ rejecter.


A/ We may consider the woe of the sinner who has still to seek Christ.
He is  guilty, unpardoned and condemned already awaiting total justice to take its unending course against him for all eternity.

B/ If/when he hears/responds positively to the gospel (by obeying its command to come as a lost sinner to Jesus in repentance and in faith) that sinner is no longer guilty because he is pardoned and therefore under no condemnation.
The Gospel message is simply this:  John 3:16

C/ For the child/God…Another (Christ) has taken His woe upon Him.
Paraphrase 44 in Our Own Hymnbook:
Behold the Saviour on the cross, A spectacle of woe!
See from his agonizing wounds, The blood incessant flow;

What woes fell upon the Dying Saviour/Cross!
 What wrath from an Offended God who spared not His own Son.
There were no woes held back as unflinching justice unleashed the fury of His wrath and soon all that wrath was expended upon Christ.
They would receive this truth in faith - resting upon it - are spared the wrath/God: John 5:24/Romans 8:1   



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